32-year-old Earl Kimrey was taken into custody by investigators at the Onslow County Sheriff's Office Friday.
Though the girl's body has not been found, ongoing searches for her have now turned into a recovery process.
Kimrey "secretly disposed of the dead child's body", the warrant said. He was being held in the Onslow County Detention Center under a $1 million bond, a news release stated. The search for Mariah entered a fifth day Friday.
Investigators posted, "Due to evidence gathered during the course of the investigation, it is believed that Mariah is deceased".
"We all hoped and prayed to find her alive".
Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Shelley Lynch confirmed Kimrey lived with Mariah and her mother.
Her mom says Mariah woke up in the middle of the night and her boyfriend told her to go back to sleep.
Authorities have arrested a man in connection with the disappearance of a 3-year-old North Carolina girl. On Friday morning, the search for 3-year-old Mariah intensified with a renewed effort that included hundreds of volunteers.
Deputies said more charges could be pending.
The FBI released this photo of Mariah Woods, who was reporting missing on November 27, 2017. Woods lives with her mother and her mother's live-in boyfriend on Dawson Cabin Road in Jacksonville, North Carolina. "Four people in the house, two adults and two kids, someone just comes up and snatches the baby and walks out?" She has been missing from her home since Monday. "She's my baby. She's my everything". "She was sent to me for a reason".
Residents were moved to action following Woods' public appeals for help in the search for her "very sweet, loving girl" with blue eyes and long brown hair.
FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Stanley Meador said authorities spent days searching by foot, boat and in the water for any leads. Marines based at nearby Camp Lejeune are also assisting in the search.
"The focus of this investigation has changed from a missing child to homicide case", Meador added.